Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychological disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features. Onset of symptoms generally occurs in adolescence or early adulthood, where most personal criticism of one’s own appearance usually begins, although cases of BDD onset in children and older adults are not unknown. BDD is often misunderstood to affect mostly women, but research shows that it affects men and women equally.
Common symptoms of BDD include:
- Obsessive thoughts about perceived appearance defects.
- Major depressive disorder symptoms.
- Delusional thoughts and beliefs related to perceived appearance defects.
- Social and family withdrawal, social phobia and loneliness.
- Suicidal ideation.
- Anxierty; possible panic attacks.
- Chronic low self esteem.
- Feeling self-conscious in social environments; thinking that others notice and mock their perceived defects.
- Strong feelings of shame.
- Dependant personality: dependence on others, such as a partner, friend or family.
- Inability to work or an inability to focus at work due to preoccupation with appearance.
- Decreased academic performance -problems maintaining grades, problems with school/college attendance.
- Problems initiating and maintaining relationships (both intimate relationships and friendships).
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse (often an attempt to self medicate).
- Perfectionism (undergoing cosmetic surgery and behaviours such as excessive moisturising and exercising with an aim to create an unattainable but ideal body and reduce anxiety).
Compulsive behaviour may include:
- Becoming hostile toward people for no known reason, especially those of the opposite sex or the same sex if homosexual.
- Seeking reassurance from loved ones.
- Excessive dieting or exercising, working on outside appearance.
- Comparing appearance/body parts with that/those of others, or obsessive viewing of favorite celebrities or models whom the person suffering from BDD wishes to resemble.